For undrafted free agents, landing a spot on a 53-man roster is just the beginning. After being passed over 256 times it is crucial for college free agents to produce, having to tough it out through any type of adversity if they want to earn snaps come August. No other players have more on the line than these men. Some have the potential to achieve stardom, like Arian Foster, while others may have to return back to their lives without pro football. In a nut shell, it comes down to which diamond in the rough can make a statement with their ability to take to coaching and translate their game to the next level. Washington Redskins Rookie Cornerback, Deshazor Everett, knows the grind of being an undrafted free agent all too well.
Best known for his game-changing interception against the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012, the former Texas A&M cornerback was signed as an undrafted rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.
“I was nervous. I knew my time could have ended at any given moment.” Says Everett after reminiscing about his rookie season.
Only three days into OTA’s Everett was injured with a Grade 2 hamstring tear, resulting in him being released at the end of July. Everett was then picked up by the Washington Redskins in early August.
Availability and staying healthy is key when it comes to playing in the league. Miss a couple of practices and you slide right down the depth chart.
“The competition level is so high and it is a daily grind. I knew it was time for me to make something happen and get noticed. “
Everett made Washington’s 53 after a strong preseason, until the following day after the Redskins signed free agent TE Anthony McCoy. To make room on the roster the Redskins waived Everett.
“I thought to myself, do I belong here? It was one of the only times in my life that I did not want my phone to ring.”
And if things could not be more of a roller coaster for Everett, he was signed to the practice squad that following day, to then be promoted back to the 53-man roster in early October. It is safe to say Everett secured his roster spot during the Redskins’ third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, when he devoured punt returner Asa Jackson, jarring the ball loose and setting up Washington with the ball on the Baltimore 30-yard line.
“You just have to wait your turn and when opportunity presents itself—make a play. It is a cutthroat job and you are tired everyday, but it is worth it when you love the game.”
Everett credits his stepfather, Joseph Bolden, for his hard work ethic and hunger to keep reaching for more.
“During high school, I remember coming home late and exhausted after playing a Friday night game and all I wanted to do was sleep in the next day. He [Bolden] would come in my room early Saturday morning and wake me up to come help him do work outside, no matter how tired I was. I credit my work ethic to him.”
For Everett, I’m sure there is satisfaction in knowing after a rough start to his NFL career he played in 11 games his rookie season, but that doesn’t mean his hard work is over.
“Every day you have got to go out there and work. Do what you do. That is what I am trying to do, go out there and work to get better”.
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